The third and final studio album Joe Walsh made with the James Gang before departing for a lucrative solo career, Thirds shows the group moving in two directions simultaneously. “Walk Away” is the rightful heir to “Funk #49,” a song replete with the brand of bare-knuckle riffs and boot-stomping hooks that had come to define the trio in the eyes of the public. The end of the song features one of Walsh’s most wonderfully twisted guitar passages, but he was still anxious that he was being pigeonholed, and therefore used the remainder to explore drastically different atmospheres. There is the vibraphonic jazz of “Yadig?,” the gospel soul of “White Man/Black Man” and the twinkling rustic country of “Dreamin’ In the Country.” It was obvious that Walsh was bored with meaty guitar riffs, which is one of the reasons he left the group to concentrate on the kind of dynamic, heavily arranged rock music represented by “It’s All the Same” and “Again.” While it lacks the lean attack of Rides Again, Thirds is the Gang’s most well-rounded album, and a rollicking portrait of Walsh’s ever-expanding musical viewpoint.

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